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Looking to file your California small claims lawsuit online? In this guide we walk you through what to expect when filing a small claims lawsuit online.
Here is our conclusion on whether you should file your small claims lawsuit online:
If you are a first time online small claims filer navigating the process on your own, we believe you are better off going in person to the court to file your lawsuit. You will spend less time and money figuring out how to file your small claims lawsuit online than if you just go in person to the court to file the lawsuit.
Keep in mind that filing your small claims lawsuit online is one of the steps in the process- you still have to determine where to file, how to prepare for the hearing, how to serve the lawsuit, and more.
We created People Clerk to help you navigate each step of the small claims process, not just how to file your lawsuit.
Did you know that People Clerk can help you navigate California small claims? Get Started.
Background Information on Filing a Small Claims Online
We are in the business of helping people navigate California small claims courts and have filed 1000s of small claims lawsuits online utilizing the many different filing systems available.
We believe that the online small claims filing systems are built for attorneys or legal professionals and not first time users as they are hard to navigate and there is room for error.
For example, even in courts that have electronic filing systems, we chose not to electronically file as we have seen the following errors:
Courts don’t provide hearing dates that give you enough time to serve the lawsuit.
Courts incorrectly process the lawsuits by not giving you back all the required paperwork to serve your lawsuit or the court clerks transcribe the information incorrectly.
Courts don’t accept all court documents that need to be filed online with the lawsuit.
We promise our clients that we can assist them with filing their small claims lawsuit without them going to the courthouse. We do this by filing on behalf of our clients online in the courts where filing the small claims lawsuit online works well and in other courts by filing the small claims lawsuits by mail.
Determine if the Court Accepts Online Filings of Small Claims Cases
Not all small claims courts in California accept online filings.
Go to the court website where you will be filing your small claims lawsuit and look for information on electronic filing or efiling. While the court may accept electronic filings, they may not accept electronic filings for small claims lawsuits. Look for information that is specific to small claims cases.
Determine Which Online Filing System the Court Uses for Small Claims
Once you have determined that the court you are filing in accepts small claims filings online, determine which electronic filing system the court uses.
There is no 1 electronic filing system to file a small claims case online in California. Each small claims court decides which electronic filing system they are going to use. The most popular filing systems are TylerTechnologies and Journal Technologies.
Once you have determined which filing system the court uses, create an account with that court provider.
Other Steps for California Small Claims Court
In addition to determining how to file your small claims lawsuit online, you will need to take the following steps in your case:
Make sure you have demanded payment from the other party before filing the lawsuit.
Determine the correct legal entities if you are suing a business.
Prepare the lawsuit using Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court.
File the lawsuit with the court.
Serve the lawsuit on the party you sued.
File the Proof of Service.
Determine your court’s evidence procedure (some courts require you send your evidence before the hearing).
Sign up for a virtual hearing or attend the hearing in person.
People Clerk is a service that helps you navigate California small claims court confidently. Get Started.
Chief Legal Architect & Co-Founder @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.